Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Banana Brownie Shish Kebabs

This recipe actually came to me in the middle of the night while I was up nursing my son. It’s good to know that my brain not only comes up with some pretty crazy dreams, but can also process recipes at night.

I love adding chocolate chips to my banana nut muffins, so the idea of adding bananas to brownies makes perfect sense for my palate.

These brownies are really rich, chocolately, gooey, and full of banana flavor.

Here’s the recipe:

Banana Brownie Shish Kebabs

1 stick butter
½ cup unsweetened cocoa (I’m a big fan of Hershey’s)
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
¾ cup flour
1 t vanilla
½ cup chopped nuts ( I used walnuts and pecans)
½ cup chocolate chips
2 bananas

For Shish Kebabs:
wooden skewers
whipped cream or Cool Whip
1 banana

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Put butter in a bowl and microwave about 45 seconds until just melted. Add cocoa and sugar immediately and beat well.

3. Add vanilla and 2 mashed bananas into chocolate mixture and mix again.

4. Add eggs one at a time and mix after each one. Your batter will have a nice shiny look to it now.

5. Add flour and mix on high one final time until batter is as smooth as batter with bananas will be, i.e. slightly lumpy.

6. Pour into greased ( I grease with butter) 9 x 9 or 9 x 13 baking dish. I used the larger dish so that I would have a flatter brownie for the kebabs. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

7. When cool, cut brownies into 1 inch squares. Layer brownies and banana slices onto skewers with whip cream in between each slice. For a party, take a jar and fill it with something heavy, like whole nuts and then put your finished skewers in the jar like pencils. Enjoy!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Colorful Baby Onesie Sew-ons

I love little baby shirts with pictures of animals and vehicles on them. Many of them that you find in the store even look homemade…

But, they aren’t. So why not make them myself instead? It really can’t be that difficult to make.

I decided to use Wunderunder fusible web, since I had used a lot of this heat-bonding material in the past and it always worked great. I made some stockings for Christmas and am currently illustrating a children's book using fusible web and various material. I know the pros and cons of such a product. The main advantage is that it is super easy to use, the disadvantage is that it can start to peel after awhile.

Baby outfits, especially onesies, are washed a lot. I knew that if I used Wunderunder, I would also need to sew around the edges to prevent fraying and peeling over time.

So, I decided to make some simple patterns which I could sew up quickly. Babies grow really fast, and I figured, that if I didn't get something finished within a couple of weeks, it probably wouldn't fit my baby anymore.

Here are the first two onesies that I made and the How to:

1. Prewash your onesie and iron it flat.

2. On a sheet of paper, draw the pattern that you would like to use. Simple items, like cars, animals, and shapes are good to start with. Make sure that your pattern is the right size for your onesie. I decided on a simple dog and a more complicated frog. If you are not good at drawing, find some simple designs in a children’s book.

3. Take a piece of white paper, lay it over your pattern and trace the large areas that you will need to cut out. Remember, any fine details, you will need to sew on later. Mark an X on each area and cut them all out (The X is so that you remember later which side is up).

4. Cut out squares of your material making sure that you have enough for your pattern. Cut out a piece of Wunderunder the same size and iron it on to the material following the package instructions. Let cool.

5. Lay the paper cut-outs in reverse on your fabric with the Wunderunder paper side up, trace them, and then cut them out.

6. Peel off Wunderunder paper backing and iron the material pieces onto the onesie.

7. Now, you will need to take a needle and thread and sew around all of the edges of your pattern so that even if it peels later, it will stay put. You can also add little details, like eyes, shadows, and hair if you’d like. I had to add quite a bit of stitching on my frog, but my dog went very quickly. I always double my thread to make the lines darker.

8. Once your stitching is finished, iron over your pattern one more time. Finished!

Depending on your pattern and the material you use, your onesie may not make it through a thousand poopy washloads. However, if your child grows as fast as mine does, your onesie will probably look great long enough.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Toddler Food Strike Pineapple Tuna Salad

I love to cook. So, why does my toddler refuse to eat everything, even foods he used to love?

I guess, that’s normal. At least, that’s what it says online. Although, it sure is frustrating!

After trying to give him more finger foods, which he would promptly hand back to me and say “Mama” (meaning - Mama, you eat it) or throw on the floor, I tried to feed him myself. But, if it wasn’t oatmeal, he would just push my hand away or spit it out. I was flustered.

I never would have thought that tuna salad would do the trick, but he ate it… all of it! I think the key was, it was thick enough that he could spoon it out himself, soft enough, that the texture didn’t bother him, and sweet enough that he liked it. He could also dip crackers in it, which is a plus. Yeah! Finally something worked.

So, now that I know he likes tuna salad, I decided to try to make a version which is a bit healthier and which adds in some fruit. I like the fact that it has less mayonnaise and some healthy yoghurt instead. I’m sure you could also make a chicken salad that is similar, maybe even with some applesauce. I gave him this pineapple tuna salad for lunch today with crackers and he didn’t complain a bit. He actually said, “Yum!”

Pineapple Tuna Salad (4 toddler portions)

1 6 oz can tuna w/water
1 T plain yoghurt
1 T mayonnaise
1 T sweet pickle relish
1 T crushed pineapple

1 Handful cheese fish crackers, or other crackers for dipping.

1. Open tuna and drain water. Add to bowl.

2. Mix in yoghurt, mayonnaise, relish, and pineapple. Mix well.

3. Add 1/3 of tuna salad to a small plastic bowl.

4. Serve with cheese fish crackers.

This recipe couldn’t be easier. Let me know if your toddler eats it or if you have other great dishes that worked during your toddler’s food strike.